The U.S. Navy is starting early preparation work to design a new nuclear attack submarine to replace the Virginia-class boats (SSN-774) in the 2030s. The new attack boat would become operational in 2044 after the last Block VII Virginias are built.
nine years to identify, design and demonstrate the new technologies the new attack boat will need.
Johnson said that he has formed a small team to work on a five-year plan to begin to do some of that work. The team will consult with industry and will identify the threat environment and technologies the submarine will need to operate against in the 2050 plus timeframe, Johnson said.
One of the areas Johnson has already identified as critical for SSN(X) is integration with off-board systems. Vice Adm. Mike Connor, said that future submarine weapons for both the Virginia and the future SSN(X) would be networked extremely long-ranged weapons.
They will integrate with off-board systems so future Virginia boats and the SSN(X) can employ networked, extremely long-ranged weapons. A torpedo propulsion system concept from the Pennsylvania State University could allow a torpedo to hit a target 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) away and be guided by another asset during the terminal phase. Targeting information might also come from another platform like a patrol aircraft or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launched from the submarine.